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The 18th Reconnaissance Squadron is a squadron of the United States Air Force. It is assigned to the 432d Operations Group, and stationed at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada.

18th Reconnaissance Squadron
Twuav 13 02.jpeg
MQ-1 Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
Active1943–1945; 1946–1979; 2006–2007; 2009–present
RoleReconnaissance and Surveillance
Part ofAir Combat Command
Garrison/HQCreech Air Force Base
EngagementsEuropean Theater of Operations[1]
DecorationsAir Force Outstanding Unit Award
Belgian Fourragère[1]
18th Reconnaissance Squadron emblem (approved 9 August 2006)[1]18th Reconnaissance Squadron.jpg
Patch with 18th Tactical Reconnaissance Emblem (approved 18 April 1955)[2]18th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron - Emblem.png



The 18th Squadron conducts intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, operating the MQ-1 Predator UAV.


World War IIEdit

161st Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron P-51D Mustang at Le Culot Airfield[note 1]

Activated as part of IV Fighter Command in early 1943, the squadron engaged in the air defense of the San Francisco area as well as a Replacement Training Unit until the end of 1943. It trained as a North American P-51 Mustang operational squadron and deployed to the European Theater of Operations, where it was assigned to IX Fighter Command in England. It operated both as a tactical fighter squadron, providing air support to Allied ground forces in France as well as an air defense squadron, attacking enemy aircraft over Europe.

In August 1944, the squadron was redesignated the 161st Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron carrying out photo-reconnaissance missions. The unit was inactivated in November 1945.

Cold War tactical reconnaissanceEdit

Reactivated in 1945 at Brooks Field, Texas under the 363d Reconnaissance Group, it trained with the Lockheed RF-80A Shooting Star. The 18th moved to Langley Field in 1947 when Brooks was transferred to Strategic Air Command. The squadron was reassigned directly to the Fourteenth Air Force in 1949 when the 363d was inactivated and moved to Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina.

161st Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron RF-80A Shooting Star at Shaw AFB[note 2]

The unit was reassigned to the 363d when the group was reactivated at Shaw on 2 Apr 1951. It became a training squadron with a mission to provide photographic intelligence training to support both air and ground operations by American or Allied ground forces. Upgraded to the Republic RF-84F Thunderflash in 1954, it continued training operations until 1957 when it re-equipped with the McDonnell RF-101C Voodoo.

RF-101C Voodoo
18th RF-4C Phantom[note 3]

The squadron was reassigned to the 66th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing and deployed to NATO in 1959. It operated from France until 1966, moving to RAF Upper Heyford, England. It remained in the UK until 1970, when it returned to Shaw AFB and was assigned to the 363d Tactical Reconnaissance Wing. It was re-equipped with the McDonnell RF-4C Phantom II at Shaw and performed training for new photo-reconnaissance pilots until 1979 when it was inactivated.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle operationsEdit

The 18th was reactivated at Beale Air Force Base, California as a Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk strategic reconnaissance unmanned aerial vhcle squadron between 2006 and 2007. It was reactivated at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada in 2009 as a General Atomics MQ-1 Predator squadron.[1]


  • Constituted as the 381st Fighter Squadron (Single Engine) on 11 February 1943
Activated on 1 March 1943
Redesignated 381st Fighter Squadron, Single Engine on 20 August 1943
Redesignated 161st Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron on 25 August 1944
Inactivated on 9 Nov 1945
  • Redesignated 161st Reconnaissance Squadron, Photo (Jet Propelled) on 9 July 1946
Activated on 31 August 1946
Redesignated 161st Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, Photo-Jet on 28 August 1948
Redesignated 18th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, Photo-Jet on 10 October 1950
Redesignated 18th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron on 1 October 1966
Inactivated on 30 September 1979
  • Redesignated 18th Reconnaissance Squadron on 14 March 2006
Activated on 3 April 2006
Inactivated on 24 August 2007
  • Activated on 11 December 2009[1]



Operated from Conflans Airfield (A-94),[4] France, 24 December 1944 – 6 February 1945
  • Venlo Airfield (Y-55),[4] Netherlands, 11 March 1945
  • Gutersloh Airfield (R-85),[4] Germany, 16 April 1945
  • Brunswick/Waggum Airfield (R-37),[4] Germany, 26 April 1945
  • AAF Station Wiesbaden, Germany, 20 May 1945
  • Reims/Champagne Airfield, France, c, 3 Jul – c. 4 Sept 1945
  • Drew Field, Florida 16 Sep – 9 Nov 1945
  • Brooks Field, Texas, 31 Aug 1946
  • Langley Field (later Langley Air Force Base), Virginia, 1 Nov 1946
  • Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, 23 Sept 1949 – 25 May 1959
  • Laon-Couvron Air Base, France, 1 Jun 1959
  • RAF Upper Heyford, England, 1 Sept 1966
  • Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, 30 Jan 1970-30 Sept 1979
  • Beale Air Force Base, California, 3 Apr 2006 – 24 Aug 2007
  • Creech Air Force Base, Nevada, 11 Dec 2009 – present[5]


  • Bell P-39 Airacobra (1943)
  • North AmericanP-51 Mustang (1944–1945)
  • North American F-6 Mustang (1944–1945, 1946–1947)
  • Lockheed FP-80 (later RF-80) Shooting Star (1946–1955)
  • Lockheed T-33 T-Bird (1950–1954)
  • Republic RF-84F Thunderflash]] (1954–1957)
  • McDonnell RF-101 Voodoo (1957–1970)
  • McDonnell RF-4 Phantom II (1970–1979)
  • Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk (2006–2007)
  • General Aromics MQ-1 Predator (2009 – present)[1]



Ecplanatory notes
  1. ^ Aircraft is North American P-51D-10-NA Mustang serial 44-14852, taken at Le Culot Airfield (A-89), Belgium, November 1944.
  2. ^ Aircraft is Lockheed RF-80A-5-LO Shooting Star serial 45-8310, taken in 1950.
  3. ^ Aircraft is McDonnell RF-4C Phantom serial 66-427 at Shaw AFB, 1977.
  1. ^ a b c d e f g Robertson, Patsy (30 July 2012). "Factsheet 12 Reconnaissance Squadron (ACC)". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Retrieved 13 May 2018. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  2. ^ Maurer, Combat Squadrons, pp. 360-361
  3. ^ a b c Station number in Anderson.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Station number in Johnson.
  5. ^ Station information in Robertson, except as noted.


  This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website

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